If you listen to everything Apple’s fans say, then you already know that we’re living in a post-PC world and that it’s only a matter of years before Microsoft has been buried six feet under.
Sure, tablet computer sales are rising and Windows 8 is basically a disaster, but that doesn’t mean we’re ready to say goodbye to the desktop PC just yet. Here are five things that could be difficult to do in a post PC world:
5) Work, research, and writing
Today, it seems like more people use their computer as a Facebook/Reddit/Twitter machine than anything else. But for the rest of us who do real work on their PCs, we need all the screen space, processing power, and program functionality we can get.
Whether you’re writing a 25 page college research paper or compiling ten different spreadsheets at the office, having a full-featured PC is useful if you plan on being as productive as possible.
4) Use all my favorite peripherals
I have plenty of peripherals attached to my computer right now. I can do that because my computer has about 10 USB ports, multiple microphone and speaker jacks (including jacks for every speaker in a 5.1 array) as well as Firewire ports and ports I don’t even know what to do with.
Sure, tablets have ports. But they usually don’t have more than 2 USB ports along with a headphone and speaker jack. That’s great if you only have a mouse, keyboard, and headset. But what if you have an external hard drive, a cell phone charger, an iPod cord, or even a USB-powered fan? Good luck!
3) Run multiple open windows at the same time
This is one of my most frustrating problems with tablet computers and other mobile handsets: running multiple apps at the same time is difficult, if not impossible. This problem is particularly prominent on iOS devices like the iPad, where multitasking is literally impossible. But it’s not much better on Windows 8 tablets, where the OS allows users to ‘snap’ only two apps side by side.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m working at my PC I generally have more than 2 different apps open. In fact, I have about 50 different Chrome tabs open right now along with iTunes, Skype, Microsoft Word, Twitter, etc. I can’t do that on a tablet.
2) Use multiple monitors
I’ve had 2 HD monitors hooked up to my computer for the past year or so. And I’ve loved every minute of it. I can play HD games on one screen while watching an HD movie on the other. When working, I can have four windows open simultaneously without missing a beat. Today, more and more people rely on multiple monitors to be more productive. And unfortunately, tablet computers (so far) only have one external video output port.
Sure, you can hook up one HD monitor to your tablet. But hooking up two is basically impossible. And even if the tablet does have multiple external video ports, it may not have the video power to supply two screens with the information they need. For some things, you need a true PC.
1) Play PC games in all their glory
Out of all the things on this list, this is the most difficult to reconcile with a post PC world. Today’s PC games demand incredibly complex system requirements, including massive graphics cards and several gigabytes of RAM and four cores of processing power.
That level of performance hasn’t been reached on tablets. And it won’t even be reached on the upcoming PlayStation 4 or ‘next Xbox’. Instead, the only way you’re going to play games like Battlefield 4 and BioShock Infinite in all their glory is on a good ol’ desktop PC. Good luck replicating that experience on a tablet.
As someone who has owned a PC for my entire life, I’m probably biased. But all of the points listed above are extremely important to me. Until a tablet can help me do all of those things, I can’t see myself transitioning to a post PC world any time soon.
Of course, a super-powerful tablet PC with multiple external ports and display adapters could be just as good as my current PC. In 3-5 years, it’s not totally crazy to think that a manufacturer could design something like that. We’ll have to wait to find out.